Slice : juicy moments from my impossible life by Steven Herrick

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Woolshed Press, 2010. ISBN: 978186471964 2.
(Year 14-16) The central character in this amusing and light-hearted book is Darcy Walker, a cheeky but good-natured boy who I am sure students and teachers will all recognise as a realistic character in class. Darcy suffers from 'premature enunciation' - he speaks before he thinks, incurring counselling from his successful, professional parents, admonishments from teachers and the occasional beating from bullies.
Darcy is growing up and meanders through his difficult teenage years with humour, kindness and maturity when it counts. This is not the dark and bleak exploration of teen angst, suffering or abuse so prevalent in many stories aimed at young adults. Instead Herrick portrays the realistic but balanced experience of contemporary school aged children as the central character observes and deals with influences such as bullying, drugs and alcohol, sexuality and the importance of meaningful relationships with individuals of different ages.
Youths will not cringe or snort with derision at the language of conversation, characters' thoughts or situations portrayed as Herrick leads them through what could conceivably be a description of their own school and family life. Similarly, parents and teachers will acknowledge the authenticity of the characters and their behaviours whilst nodding with approval at how Herrick deals with difficult issues in a responsible and plausible manner.
This is a happy and wholesome story. I liked that Darcy loves his parents and they love him. I enjoyed that he interacts with teachers in a comical way without stepping too far into disrespect or confrontation. Darcy empathizes with people, including teachers and he treats girls with respect whilst wrestling with his own sexual urges.
Most of all, I want to cheer for Darcy, who is an average student but who has literary interests. He knows what he does not like (Shakespeare), yet quotes him often. It is refreshing to read about a generally happy kid who does not subscribe to the 'dumb is cool' and not being interested in anything.
Rob Welsh